WASHINGTON—United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today joined America Reports to discuss today’s committee hearing with Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan.
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Hagerty on hearing with Secretary Blinken: “This was the first hearing, and it certainly shouldn’t be the last, because there’s so much that’s gone wrong here. And we’ve put America’s reputation in the worst position that has been in my lifetime. If you think about it from the perspective of the veterans that have served, from our allies who have served alongside us, this is something that is extraordinarily difficult to even comprehend. The fact that we would have put the Taliban in a stronger position than they were 20 years ago when we went in. The fact that we’d have left them armed, and made certainly the region much more dangerous now—if not the entire world. That’s something that’s very hard to square. And what we’re seeing is a lot of equivocation, spinning… people are trying to simply deflect. The Biden Administration is not taking responsibility for this. I was very direct with Secretary Blinken today. Accountability is critical here. I appreciated the way he answered, but we’ve got to get to the bottom of this and actually hold folks accountable.”
Hagerty on the intelligence and policy failures behind the Afghanistan catastrophe: “It seems to me that there was a huge failure in intelligence. If you think about what transpired beforehand, President Biden told us that there should be no failing here, that we should be able to withdraw safely. The initial intelligence was that the Taliban might actually take over by the end of the year. This was a massive failure of intelligence and we should have taken much greater account of what we were learning and hearing on the ground. But it was also a failure of policymaking. If we knew the Taliban was in a position to overtake the country by the end of the year, we should have taken a very different posture right now. We should have never left ourselves in a position to leave that type of weaponry behind.”